Is there a better way to explore a city than cycling?
Whether you’re commuting to work or just enjoying a fun, free way to get around, cycling is a popular way to navigate through the bustling streets of the world’s most exciting locations.
Of course, it’s important that cyclists take the necessary safety precautions to guard against accidents, and this is especially true in the city, where roads are usually extremely busy.
We’ve compiled 10 top tips to help you get from A to B:
1. Make sure your bike has lights
Lights are actually a legal requirement if cycling after dark, which of course many commuters will find themselves doing during the winter months. For your own safety, it is vital that you make yourself easy to spot, and lights are a good way to make sure of this.
Your bike must have lights on the front and back, as well as reflectors on the back to warn vehicles behind you of your presence. Cyclists should attach a white light to the front and a red one to the back.
2. Wear appropriate clothing
Whether you ride to work in a suit or move around the city in specialist cycling gear, it’s important you wear the correct protective clothing.
A high visibility jacket will help motorists see you if it’s dark and reduce the risk of accidents, while if you are knocked off your bike in a collision, it’s well documented that a cycling helmet might just save your life.
3. Monitor your speed
As a cyclist, you will not be reaching any of the speed limits put in place for cars and other vehicles. However, you must always bear in mind that your bike affords much less protection than a car, bus or lorry, so you must be extra mindful of your speed in order to avoid accidents.
Stay at a pace you feel comfortable with, and one that will allow you to stop suddenly if needed without injuring yourself. You should always have your hands on your brakes in case an emergency stop is required.
4. Stick to designated routes and lanes
While in many situations you may find yourself having to make your own way through the traffic, many cities will have specific cycle lanes for you to use. These will be clearly marked, so you should have no trouble knowing where to go. There are also often areas for bikes at the front of the queue at traffic lights to help you pull away safely.
When it’s necessary to leave the road and follow a designated cycle path, you should check whether the route is shared with pedestrians or segregated. If it is shared, you must take care to avoid collisions, while if it is segregated you should make sure you are riding on the correct side of the path.
You should not ride on the pavement. This is against the law, and could endanger pedestrians.
5. Use common sense
While a lot of city centre cycling comes down to following signposts and laws, you shouldn’t forget to use good old fashioned common sense where necessary.
For example, when winding your way through busy rush hour traffic, it’s important to have your hands and feet correctly positioned to allow you to deal situations quickly and effectively.
Road signs, traffic lights and the law all apply to cyclists just as much as they do to motorists, so don’t put yourself at risk by ignoring them.
You should also make allowances for the weather – if it’s raining, it will take you longer to stop, while if there is fog it may be more difficult for motorists to know you’re there.
6. Stay alert
While it can be tempting to supplement your ride to work with your favourite tunes, it’s important that your attention remains on your surroundings.
In the city, you are likely to be surrounded by other vehicles for the vast majority of your journey, and as we all know you can’t always predict what they’ll do next. By paying attention in riskier situations such as turning at junctions, setting off from traffic lights and remaining aware when passing parked cars, you could reduce the chance of an accident.
7. Make sure other road users know where you are
We’ve all seen those signs on the back of lorries. If you can’t see a driver’s wing mirrors, there’s every chance they can’t see you. Different vehicles have different fields of visibility, so it’s important to make your presence known.
This can be achieved in a variety of ways, from audible signals such as a bell, to indicating your intentions using arm signals. Always try and make eye contact with nearby motorists to make them aware of you, especially when you are waiting at traffic lights.
8. Park your bike safely
While keeping yourself safe is paramount, let’s not forget that city centre cycling is also about looking after your bike. It may be that you have a designated secure area to leave your bike at home or at work, but if not then you should be careful about where you leave it.
It’s a sad fact that thieves are always on the lookout for poorly secured bikes, but there are steps you can take to protect it. Only leaving it in a busy, well lit area is a good idea, as this creates less opportunity for someone to steal it. Investing in a good bike lock is also a must – our insurance policies only cover thefts of bikes with a quality, approved lock.
9. Maintain your bike
A well maintained bicycle could easily be crucial to ensuring your safety. Key components such as your tyres, gears, chain and brakes should be serviced regularly to make certain they remain in good working order.
If your bike is in the best possible condition, you stand a better chance of being able to control it properly. It’s not hard to see how poorly maintained brakes could cause serious problems when you are out on the road.
10. Enjoy yourself
While there are safety considerations to be taken into account, we mustn’t forget that cycling is a really fun way to travel.
It saves you money on petrol or public transport, helps you stay fit and means you are less likely to be stuck in traffic jams, so it really is a fantastic way to enjoy travelling around the enthralling city you’re lucky enough to be in.